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Ricciardo: You'll see me at Albert Park in a Red Bull

NEWS STORY
21/12/2016

While those at the heart of the speculation are not talking, Daniel Ricciardo very publicly rules himself out of the Mercedes equation.

Back home in Australia following a season in which he finished third in the championship for the second time, Daniel Ricciardo built up to the Christmas break by taking part in a practice kick-about with the West Coast Eagles Australian rules football club in his home town of Perth.

Asked what he is hoping to find in his stocking come Christmas day, the Red Bull driver told The Age: "A cold beer would be enough, but for March a fast car."

Back in Europe, attention is fully focussed on Mercedes following Nico Rosberg's shock decision to retire, and while the vacant seat now looks set to go to Valtteri Bottas, many, including Pitpass, believe Ricciardo might have been a better fit.

"I've got two more years at Red Bull," said the Australian, "and that's where I'm going to be.

"I'm sure a lot of people wanted it," he continued, a masterpiece of understatement. "Let's be honest, it is currently the best seat in terms of speed and whatnot. I said it from once I heard the news: whoever gets that seat better know what they are getting and better appreciate it because it is not every day that someone offers the best seat in the house.

"So, sure, it is a very good one to be in and, whoever ends up getting the nod, hopefully they run with it. I obviously don't want them to beat me, but hopefully they don't take it for granted. But for me, you'll see me at Albert Park in a Red Bull."

Asked about Rosberg's decision, the popular Australian was sympathetic to the German.

"Let's say, at the time, it surprised me," he told The Age. "I wasn't expecting it, but once I realised it I understood it.

"I mean, to have a family and do everything and to be under that stress and pressure. And he's been doing it... not only is he older than me, he has been in it his whole life. His dad was a champion, so even before he was racing his life was probably heavily involved in the sport.

"It's been four weeks since the last race and yet we are still talking about F1," he added, "so it doesn't really stop, which takes its toll. So I understand it from his point of view."

It's anticipated that the 2017-regulation cars will be more demanding and physical to drive, so after that cold beer on Christmas day - hopefully out of a glass not a shoe - the preparations will begin.

"Once January starts my trainer comes over, he'll come to Perth straight after the new year and we'll get a bit of a head start here and then head off from here.

"The team will be in touch every now and then and maybe ask a couple of things," he continued, "but more driver comfort things as opposed to design and that.

"I'll be honest, in terms of design and that I'm nowhere near capable of telling the guys what shape that part should be, but I guess where I'm sort of strong is once we drive the car, it's then telling them what I think we should do now."

Asked about his title chances, he responds: "We'll see. We'll see what happens. You definitely need everything to fall into place, but I personally feel ready. Definitely hungry enough that's for sure."

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1. Posted by mickl, 23/12/2016 19:31

"A note about the 2017 cars. It was reported that when Rosberg tested for Pirelli the 2017 tyres earlier in the year, it was told that he was shattered after the test as the car was much more demanding and physical to drive and that was without 2017 downforce.

Maybe Nico forearmed with that knowledge, just thought, sod that with the amount of extra training and fitness they'll have to do and maintain decided to call it a day."

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